Governments Are in a Panic Over Monkeypox, but Should We Be?

The fights over to mask up or not to mask up have finally ended as the dangers of COVID-19 are no longer splashed across headlines to instill fear in basement dwellers who refused to surface until they received an all-clear sign from the brilliant mind of Dr. Fauci. But suddenly a new contender has arrived on the scene. Say hello to monkeypox and hope you’re never selected to meet its acquaintance.

Rumor has it that COVID-19 was the result of tainted monkey meat hanging on a rack in a Chinese wet market. This weed-smoking caterpillar on a mushroom theory was accepted under the premise of “you can’t make that stuff it.” But in reality, you can.

Until now, monkeypox has only been seen in people who have traveled to, or reside in, West and Central Africa. None of the newly infected patients qualify for either scenario. As with the dead Chinese monkey, the virus lives in jungle animals.

Monkeypox infections are ugly and they hurt, but seldom are they fatal. The blisters clear up in two to four weeks and life gets back to normal. Who did what with a jungle animal or how this latest epidemic was started is inconsequential. After just recently recovering from the last pandemic, governments around the world are already hitting the panic button.

Unlike COVID-19, a vaccine already exists for monkeypox, so as one might imagine, the demand for it has exceeded all worldly bounds though most of it is likely destined to expire on a warehouse shelf.

Cameroonian doctor, Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, who works at Atlanta’s Emory University, said, “This basically is the largest cluster of monkeypox cases happening in multiple countries simultaneously outside of an endemic region.” 

Here’s the breakdown of the over 250 cases spread across 16 countries. Most of the cases are in the U.K., Spain, and Portugal. There has only been one reported case in the U.S. and that was in Massachusetts. 

Four possible cases have been reported in Florida, Utah, and New York, but the jury is still out. There may be an additional case in California, but once again…

The monkeypox vaccine manufacturer, Bavarian Nordic, said they’re being inundated with calls from around the world. The company’s vice president for investor relations and communication, Rolf Sass Sorenson, said, “We’re talking to a large number of countries that are putting in procurement requests to us as the problem is just spreading and increasing day by day.”

Eric Toner, a scientist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that “this is one of the rare diseases where you can be vaccinated after exposure and it prevents you from getting sick.”

Because monkeypox is so rare outside of Africa, stocks of the vaccine are low in other regions of the world. The U.S. only has 1,000 doses on hand. The U.K., which has already begun vaccinating, has used 1,000 of the 3,500 doses they had available. 

Governments might be in a panic, but there’s no reason for anyone else to be at this point. The death rate from monkeypox is almost null, and as long as those already infected isolate themselves till the virus has run its course, where’s the problem?